1923 passport photo

Philip Ernest ("P.E.") Bowles (October 23, 1858 – January 20, 1926) was a banker who also served as a UC Regent. He was the namesake of Bowles Hall on the UC Berkeley campus. 

Bowles was born October 23, 1858 in Arcata to Joseph Bowles and Sarah Harding (Bowles). His father died the next year, in 1859.

Philip graduated from UC Berkeley in 1882. He married Mary Amanda McNear (Bowles) (1862 – 1935) on November 15, 1883 at the First Presbyterian Church. The reception was held at the McNear home at 957 Linden Street. 2

They had 4 children: Philip Bowles, Jr. (1884 – 1918), George McNear Bowles (1887 – 1937), Amy Margaret Bowles (Johnson) (1890 – 1918), and Robert Harding Bowles (1895 – 1948). According to the inscriptions in the family bible, Philip was born at 957 Linden, Amy and George were born at 918 - 10th Street, and Robert was born at 317 Boulevard Terrace.

c.1895 they lived at 317 Boulevard Terrace (present day Grand Avenue, about where the Cathedral of Christ the Light is). Beginning in 1910, they lived at The Pines Estate in Upper Rockridge. Bowles was a member of the nearby Claremont Country Club

He partnered with prominent Oakland attorney Robert M. (R.M.) Fitzgerald to subdivide the Bowles & Fitzgerald Tract between Grove Street (now Martin Luther King Jr. Way), Shattuck Avenue, 53rd Street and Aileen Street in 1903-1905. 3,4 This seems to be the first usage of the name Aileen Street for what had previously been known as Menlo Street.

Amy married Hiram Johnson, Jr., the son of California governor Hiram Johnson, in 1912. 5 Sadly, she died just few years later in 1918.

Robert served as a lieutenant in WWI.

Philip, Jr., like his father, attended UC Berkeley. He died in 1918 in Kern County of influenza.


Bowles started as a clerk c.1889 at the First National Bank of Oakland. In 1900, he became president of the bank. Bowles was also on the board of the East Bay Water Company (one of the predecessors of EBMUD), and the Key System Transit Company. 1

He was on the UC Board of Regents from c.1913 until his retirement in 1920.

1911 7

Death and Legacy

Philip died at home, on January 20, 1926. He had been ill and traveled some to try to recover his health.

Following Philip's death, one of the investments Mary made was the construction of what is known as the Mary Bowles Building between Telegraph and Broadway.

Mary also donated for Bowles Hall, the first dormitory on the UC Berkeley campus.

Links and References

  1. Philip Ernest Bowles California Historical Society Quarterly March 1, 1926
  2. The Bowles-McNear Wedding Oakland Tribune November 3, 1883
  3. Cross=Town Sewer Will Be Constructed Oakland Tribune October 20, 1903
  4. Map of the Bowles & Fitzgerald Tract, recorded June 7, 1905 Bowles and Fitzgerald Tract.pdf
  5. Governor's Son Claims Bride Berkeley Gazette May 30, 1912
  6. Philip Bowles' Rites Tomorrow Oakland Tribune January 21, 1926 (p2)
  7. Greater Oakland edited by Evarts Blake, Pacific Publishing Co., 1911